Patricia Covarrubias

Photo: Patricia Covarrubias

Professor Emerita



Patricia Covarrubias, a native of Mexico, is Professor Emerita at the University of New Mexico where she holds joint appointments in the Departments of Communication and Journalism and Chicana and Chicano Studies. 

She earned her B.A. and M.A. degrees from California State University, Sacramento specializing in French language and literature. 

Besides English (not her native tongue), she speaks Spanish, French, some Italian, and has studied Japanese. 

She lived in Europe for 18 months and spent one year as instructor at the Lycée Bellevue in Albi, France teaching English to high school girls.

Upon her return to the United States, she worked for several years as an on-air news reporter for KCRA-TV, the NBC affiliate in Sacramento, California. Her broadcast reports broached a wide range of topics including: politics, medicine, crime, education, and human interest.

For ten years she owned and operated OCELOTL, a consultant business in Stockton, California specializing in communication skills for individual and corporate clients. Her consulting practice included studying Japanese so that she could better work with Japanese businessmen from Nippon Steel Corporation. 

She earned a doctorate degree at the University of Washington specializing in cultural and intercultural communication as well as qualitative research methods, in particular, the ethnography of communication. 


The National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences San Francisco / Northern California Chapter Royal Chicano Air Force Documentary Screening in Taos, New Mexico


At UNM since 2005, she has taught at undergraduate and graduate levels in: cultural and intercultural communication/comunicación intercultural; qualitative research methods; cultural metaphors and other word symbols; language, thought, and behavior; and communication theory.


  • CCS 393, Cultural Word Symbols
  • CCS 393, Culture and Chican@ Communication
  • CCS 490, Advanced Seminar in Chicana and Chicano Studies
  • CCS 620, Practicum in Chicana and Chicano Studies (Fall 2020)
  • CCS 670, Culture and Chican@ Communication (Fall 2020)


Dr. Covarrubias's research has been dedicated to understanding and describing how indigenous culture influences peoples’ ways of communicating and vice versa, and on describing how culturally grounded communicative practices reflect and create a unique life for groups of people. 

Ultimately, she is interested in studying the influence of cultural imperatives within the activities and events of everyday life across a variety of contexts.

Research goals include contributing to: cultural and intercultural communication; language in social interaction; Chicano@/Mexican@/Latin@ communication, the much understudied activity of generative communicative silence, and ethnographic approaches.

Scholarly Achievements


Hall, B. J., Covarrubias, P. O., & Kirschbaum, K. (2022). Among cultures: The challenge of communication. 4th edition. London: Routledge.

Covarrubias, P. (2002) Culture, communication, and cooperation: Interpersonal relations and pronominal address in aMexican organization, Rowman and Littlefield Publishers, Boulder, CO. (Soft cover edition 2005).

Creative Productions:


Covarrubias, P. Originator, writer, co-producer, co-director, co-editor of documentary. Trenzas: Margaret Montoya Stories. March 2019.

Refereed articles and chapters:

Covarrubias, P., Kvam, D., & Saito. M. (2019). Symbolic agonistics: Stressing emotion and relation in Mexican, Mexican@, and Japanese discourses. In Michelle Scollo & Trudy Milburn (Eds.) Engaging and Transforming Global Communication through Cultural Discourse Analysis: A Tribute to Donal Carbaugh (pp. 179-194). Denver, CO: Rowman & Littlefield.

Covarrubias, P. (2017). Respeto [respect] in disrespect: Clashing cultural themes within the context of immigration. In D. Carbaugh (Ed.) The Handbook of Communication in Cross-cultural Perspective. International Communication Association Series. (pp. 208-221). London, Routledge.

Covarrubias, P., & Windchief, S. (2009) Silences in stewardship: Some American Indian college students examples.  TheHoward Journal of Communications, 20, 4, 1-20.

Covarrubias, P. (2008). Masked silence sequences: Hearing discrimination in the college classroom. Communication, Culture & Critique, 1, 3, 227-252.  

Covarrubias, P. (2007). (Un)biased in Western theory: Generative silence in American Indian communication. Communication Monographs, 74, 2, 265-271.

Philipsen, G., Coutu, L. M., & Covarrubias, P. (2005). Speech Codes Theory: Revision, Restatement, and Response to Criticisms. In William Gudykunst (Ed.), Theorizing about communication and culture. Newbury Park, CA: Sage Publications.

Covarrubias, P. (2005). Homemade talk: Language, identity, and other Mexican legacies for a son’s intercultural competence. In Wendy Leeds-Hurwitz (Ed.), From generation to generation: Maintaining cultural identity over time (pp. 29-47). Cresskill, NJ: Hampton Press.   

Philipsen, G., Aoki, E., Castor, T., Coutu, L., Covarrubias, P., Jabs, L., Kane, M., & Winchatz, M. (1997). Reading Ella Cara Deloria’s Waterlily for cultured speech. Iowa Journal of Communication, 29, 31-49. (order of authorship beyond Philipsen selected at random)

Covarrubias, Patricia O. (2018). Cultural communication. In Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Communication, Ed. Jon Nussbaum. New York: Oxford University Press. Retrieved (DATE), from

Covarrubias, P. (2018). Communication modes: Mexican. In Kim, Young Yun (Ed.) International Encyclopedia of Intercultural Communication. Wiley-Blackwell.

Encyclopedia, biographical, and other entries:

Covarrubias, P. O. (2015). Ethnographic research. In Janet M. Bennett (Ed.) Encyclopedia of Intercultural Competence, 1, 312-315. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Covarrubias, P.O. (2015). Silence. In Tracy, Karen (Ed.) International Encyclopedia of Language and Social Interaction (pp. 1354-1359). New Jersey, USA: Wiley-Blackwell. 

Covarrubias, P.O. (2015). Pronoun functions. In Tracy, Karen (Ed.) International Encyclopedia of Language and Social Interaction (pp. 1236-1242).. New Jersey, USA: Wiley-Blackwell. 

Covarrubias Baillet, P.O. (2009). The Ethnography of Communication. In Littlejohn, S. and K. Foss (Eds.) Encyclopedia of Communication Theory (pp. 355-360). Newbury Park, CA: Sage Publications.

Covarrubias Baillet, P.O. (2009). Speech Codes Theory. In Littlejohn, S. and K. Foss (Eds.) Encyclopedia of Communication Theory (pp. 918-924). Newbury Park, CA: Sage Publications.

Covarrubias, P. (January 2006). The findings from my invited research presentation, “Defining success: Overhauling our assumptions,” were included in the published conference proceedings, Redefining Student Success: The Challenges and Implications of Extending Access, published by The College Board.

Covarrubias, P. (2000). Of endearment and other terms of address: A Mexican perspective. In M. W. Lustig and J. Koester (Eds.), AmongUS:  Essays on identity, belonging, and intercultural competence (pp. 9-17).  New York: Longman.